07 October 2016

With Numbers Too Close, Breaks Could Be A Factor

Meralco vs Ginebra
Two teams known for smothering opponents with their defensive blanket, the Meralco Bolts and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel begin what is expected to be a frenetic best-of-seven series for Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governor's Cup title at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The match-up will start at 7:00 P.M. and it will feature a grand slam champion coach going against a fellow Triple Crown-winning mentor. One one side, there is a workhorse of an import against a rival of the same kind. One hungry team opposite a ball club yearning to carve a niche. It's simply an MVP team versus a SMC tea.

The Bolts and the Gin Kings are both enjoying the momentum of blazing playoff rides by eliminating their much superior and highly fancied sister teams, Talk 'N Text KaTropa and San Miguel Beermen.

Both teams boast of three locals averaging in double figure points. For Ginebra, they’re LA Tenorio (15.2), Japeth Aguilar (14.1) and Sol Mercado (11.4). For Meralco, they're Cliff Hodge (13.3), Chris Newsome (13.1) and Jared Dillinger (10.4).

Thompson is contributing solid numbers for Ginebra, averaging 6.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists while for Meralco, Reynel Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag are chipping in big figures. Hugnatan is averaging 9.1 points and hitting 40 percent from beyond the arc.

In the semifinals, Hugnatan hit at a 14.1 clip, punctuated by a 21-point effort in Game 3. Alapag is averaging 8.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 45.9 percent from the three-point arc. The Mighty Mouse has taken more three-point attempts (74) than two-pointers (15), indicating his willingness to force the defense to spread out.

Looking at the numbers so far, Ginebra is No. 1 in the league in defense, giving up 95.2 points a game and No. 1 in field goal percentage allowed at 41.1. It’s also No. 1 in assists (25.6), No. 1 in least free throws allowed (18.9) and No. 3 in rebounds (50.7).

Meralco, on the other hand, is No. 2 in assists (23.2), No. 2 in field goal percentage (47.1), No. 1 in least rebounds allowed (43.9), No. 1 in least second chance points allowed (12.3) and No. 1 in least fastbreak points allowed (8.8).

The numbers show that both teams like to win with defense. Seven of Meralco's 10 wins this conference came when the Bolts held their opponents to less than 90 points. Nine of Ginebra’s 12 wins this conference came when the Barangay limited its opponents to less than 90.

"Trying to match up with Meralco’s athleticism is going to be tough for us and of course, with Durham himself," said Cone. "He’s a huge inside presence who can also step outside and do damage. Plus, he's unselfish. Also, the leadership over there is tough. Norman is one of the best X and O coaches we've ever had. He's a great adjustment coach which is a great skill in a series. He may truly be our toughest match-up. Then, add Luigi Trillo who knows our system well."

It will be a tough grind for Meralco, but with everything to gain and nothing much to loose, they will be less pressure for the and less uptight than their opponents.

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